Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo

Healing My Relationship With Exercise as a Fitness Instructor

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Mass Amherst chapter.

My relationship with exercise is one that has had many ups and downs. When I was younger, I never loved playing sports because competition always gave me intense anxiety, so I turned to the gym for movement. The gym and I developed a complicated relationship. It was one that was similar to that of a toxic ex that I kept going back to, even though it never really made me feel good. It felt like a chore to get there, and I found myself counting down the minutes left on the elliptical and hyper-fixating on the calories-burned number going up.   

What I eventually realized was that I was moving my body because I felt like I *had* to, not because I wanted to. 

That was until I met spin. The first class I took was in 2017, and it has changed my life in so many ways. I walked into that dark lit room with loud music blasting and came out 45 minutes later feeling like a new person. I genuinely had no idea that moving your body could make you feel so elated, and not only that, it made me feel STRONG. When I’m in a class, there is a clear shift out of my head and into my body. I am not focused on how many calories I’m burning or how long I am working out for, I’m just present. And I’m joyful. After three years of riding, I decided I wanted to share that joy. I got certified to become an instructor in 2019, and began teaching in 2020. 

The onset of COVID and the diagnosis of my chronic condition brought about some struggles for me. For one, I was no longer able to go to in-person spin classes, which left a big hole in my heart. On top of that (and while being in the midst of a global pandemic), I was met with debilitating lower back pain that took me out of commission from spin for months, even when I could finally attend outdoor rides or cycle at home. This brought me to a point in my healing journey when I had to dig deep and confront my beliefs about exercise. Surprisingly, this difficult time presented me with the unique opportunity to experience deep gratitude for what my body allows me to do and how being a part of a community that uplifts one another makes me feel.

I had no choice but to take time off from spin and turn to gentle movements, like yoga and walks around the neighborhood. It taught me that movement is movement, whether it be a walk around the block or a 45-minute spin class, I learned to do movement that makes me feel good, movement that my body is asking for. It made me realize how much my body does for me on an everyday basis, and how grateful I am to be able to move in the ways I can.

As RuPaul says, “If you can’t love yourself, how the hell are you gonna love somebody else?” If I don’t have a positive relationship with exercise, how can I teach my riders to foster one too? I healed my relationship with exercise not only for me but for every single person who steps into my class so that they can leave 45 minutes later feeling like I did the first time I walked into that dark spin room.

I’ll leave you with this thought-provoking question: would you exercise if it didn’t change the way your body looks? If your answer is no, I urge you to seek out a form of movement that feels joyful to you and makes your body feel good — I promise it’s out there. Maybe you can pop into one of my spin classes one day — hopefully it makes you feel as powerful and strong as it makes me feel.

Can’t get enough of HC UMass Amherst? Be sure to follow us on Instagram, listen to us on Spotify, like us on Facebook, and read our latest Tweets!

Meghan Buschini

U Mass Amherst '22

Meghan is a Senior at UMass Amherst majoring in Communications with a minor in Sociology. She is a spin instructor and is passionate about mindfulness, meditation, body acceptance and self love. She shares these passions both through her articles and her instagram account @mindfulmeg_